52 Great Weekends

No 14: Port Fairy

Ride back in time in this postcard-pretty historic fishing town.

This charming coastal village is alive with history and modern treasures alike. Hire bikes and cruise along historic streets, lined with 19th Century cottages and Norfolk Pines. Then watch fisherman unload their catch of the day at one of the busiest fishing ports in Victoria. Explore the wildlife sanctuary and historic lighthouse on Griffith Island and keep an eye out for whales on your brisk winter walk on East Beach. Peruse the local luxury boutiques, antique stores and meet the makers at the artisan workshops scattered throughout this picturesque town. Then relax at some of the finest food and wine destinations on the Great Ocean Road before returning to your unforgettable accommodation at historic bluestone BnB’s.

ITINERARY

FRI: LUXURY IN THE HEART OF PORT FAIRY

Accommodation: The Oak & Anchor Hotel – the most romantic of retreats.

We were staying at Oak & Anchor, a 6-bedroom boutique hotel located right in the heart of the seaside village. This historic bluestone building has been a part of Port Fairy’s colourful history since 1857 and was lovingly renovated by owners Blair and Sally in 2018 – now, it’s the classiest old dame in town.  Each suite is uniquely designed mixing the historic stone, timber and rusted steel textures with luxurious, contemporary furnishings right down to the tiniest of details. These luxurious, light filled rooms with open plan bathrooms and decadently deep bathtubs makes for an unforgettable romantic retreat.

AFTERNOON: LUXURY SHOPPING AT YOUR DOORSTEP

Whilst you are sipping wine from your dreamy bubble bath you might spy the sophisticated shopping strip right across the road. Penny & Reibey, Luone Silversmith jewellery and Golden Store are just a few of the irresistible boutiques that lure shoppers from all along the Shipwreck Coast. I couldn’t resist popping over to check out the designer labels, handcrafted homewares, gorgeous gifts and the bespoke silversmith workshop.

DINNER: SHARE SOME OF THE REGIONS’ BEST PRODUCE, TAPAS STYLE

Port Fairy is famed for its multitude of dining destinations. But tonight, we don’t have to travel further than downstairs. The Oak and Anchor Hotel team with over 70+ years of combined hospitality experience know how to serve up an exceptional meal, whatever time of day you choose to dine. The three beautifully crafted menus (breakfast, lunch & dinner) show off the best of seasonal and regional produce. The tapas style share plates of slow cooked meats and contemporary bite sized snacks soon turned the meal into a feast!
Luckily, we only had to roll ourselves back upstairs.

SAT: CRUISING PORT FAIRY BY BIKE

AM: CYCLE PAST VICTORIA’S FRESHEST SEAFOOD

The best way to take in this quaint village is with the salty sea breeze in your lungs and wind in your hair as you cycle the historic streets and boardwalk of the Moyne River. We hired bikes from the Port Fairy Visitor Centre and set off to the bustling harbour.

This is one of the busiest ports in Victoria and the local fisherman were already unloading their fresh morning catch of crayfish and abalone. Guided fishing charters can take you out to sea to catch your own if you fancy. Or sit back and take a seat at the water’s edge restaurants for the freshest ‘boat to belly’ fish & chips or seafood platter you can get!

RIDE THROUGH HISTORY

Ride back in time as you cruise down the beautifully preserved streetscapes. The Port Fairy Historical Town Walk provides a great self-guided map (pick one up from the Visitor Centre) then discover over 50 buildings listed with the National Trust. Our favourite dwelling was ‘Seafield’, one of the oldest homes on Wishart St, which dates back to 1852.

BIKE-HIKE THE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, GRIFFITHS ISLAND

Keep peddling to the trails of the nearby Griffiths Island – you may have to push in some sandy areas. This natural oasis is a sanctuary for native animals including wallabies, blue-tongue lizards, echidnas and over 80 species of birds. It’s also the perfect nesting ground for the Short-tailed Shearwater or ‘Mutton bird’.

Bike the 1.2km return track to Griffith’s Islands Eastern tip and discover the historic Port Fairy Lighthouse, built in 1859. This is also a great location for whale spotting from June to October. This local bluestone lighthouse is still operational but today is solar powered and fully automatic, the last lighthouse keeper left the island in the early 1950s.

EVENING:

From Bass Straight to plate – a seafood platter at The Wharf
You can’t stay in a famous fishing village like Port Fairy without trying the local goods! We couldn’t go past the relaxed and lively atmosphere of the ‘The Whalf’. This iconic Modern Australian restaurant is located on the waters edge of the Moyne River – only metres from where the local fisherman unloaded their catch only hours ago.

Whether you are looking for classic take-away fish & chips or to dine-in on the innovative, seasonal menu, seafood doesn’t come fresher than this.  We ordered the seafood platter for 2 and the chef’s generous assortment of oysters (fresh and Kilpatrick), prawns, cured trout, zesty mussels, garlic scallops and seared salmon exceeded even our wildest expectations.  Paired with a bottle of local Riesling it was the perfect way to finish the day.

SUN:

WHALE SPOTTING – SUNDAY STROLLS AT EAST BEACH

Pull on your winter woollies and get ready for this beautiful 5.8km walk along the crescent shaped sands of East Beach. Not just for the summer months, this peaceful beach delights in the cooler season too. Our winter is a whale’s summer and the gentle giants choose this idyllic coastline for their annual ‘babymoon’- breeding, birthing and raising their calves in Port Fairy’s very own beautiful backyard. Can’t say I blame them, I’d love to spend three months of the year here too!

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Getting there

The most direct route from Melbourne to Port Fairy is taking the M1 via Hamilton Hwy. It’s approx. 288km and takes around 3 hours.

Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Staying at the romantic retreat of Oak & Anchor

  • The ‘Bass Straight to plate’ seafood platter at The Wharf

  • Cycling Griffith’s Island wildlife sanctuary at sunset

  • The best of boutique shopping right on my doorstep

  • Whale spotting on East Beach

If you’re a lover of the arts, live music and local stories you’ll be swept away by the romantic town of Port Fairy.   

 

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Ancestors, past present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.